4 interview questions to ask to find the best talent

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Basketball Hall of Fame Dominique Wilkins once said, “You are only as good as your team. This quote is the same on and off the basketball court. Fast growing businesses need fast growing teams; they need the best possible teams to win.

This leads to two crucial questions: How do we find the best talent? And how do you find the best talent, quickly? The best talent is certainly there, especially as many workers are looking to use unprecedented time to seek new opportunities. However, these people do not show up in your conference room with a “first choice” label on their shirt. So how do you spot these people during a job interview?

The answer lies in the questions you ask, as well as in your assessment of the answers you receive. Below are four essential interview questions and answers to watch out for.

Tell me about a time when you received comments that stung or hurt you.

  • Listen to a response first. If the candidate does not have such experience to share, it is likely that he does not have enough experience for the position.
  • Second, listen for honest awareness and the ability to express emotions, as well as the ability to effectively tell a story. Did the contestant set up the story convincingly? You should be able to figuratively ride with them on an emotional roller coaster through their response.
  • Third, avoid candidates who end their story by describing a trigger and their attendant defensiveness, outrage, and disengagement. Lean towards those who end by describing a point at which they got past the sting, acknowledged the reviews to be 100% true, and then took action to capitalize on it.

Do you remember a particular time when you had a solid victory at work?

  • Again, listen to a separate response. If the candidate does not have a winning history, it may indicate that they lack motivation or enthusiasm for the job more fundamentally. When the best talent wins on the job, they’re obviously excited. And this emotion is contagious.
  • Also look for a discussion on others. Avoid candidates who fail to mention contributions to victory from people outside of them. This red flag signifies a spirit of competition, not a spirit of collaboration. The best talent has a healthy balance between the two ethos, and they have it early in their careers.

Why did you specifically apply for this position?

  • The best candidates don’t put pressure on their resumes left and right. They aim carefully before putting their name into consideration. So here you are looking for evidence that they know (a lot) about your organization as well as the unique position they are interviewing for.
  • Plus, listen to how the candidate relates the role they’re interviewing for to their life and career goals. The best players know how to optimize their goals in combination with each other. They should tell you where they want to be in five years, as well as how that exact job is leading them to their ideal of success.

Tell me about a time when you felt demoralized at work. How was it ?

  • Look for resilience. Why? Because it is common for demoralized people to quit smoking. Avoid hiring people who admit to doing it. Ten times out of 10, they’ll bring their victimhood mentality with them to the next job they take.
  • Also look for suitable soft skills. Top talent will answer this question by describing how they used their emotional intelligence to identify the source of the initial turmoil and how they leveraged their communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills to successfully address it.

Additionally, here are a few caveats worthy of mention when looking for top talent.

First, toxic people often present themselves as high achievers, while minimizing the narcissism and manipulation that can (and will) follow them into your office. Fast business Contributor Aytekin Tank gives great advice on how to spot a potentially toxic hire in a video interview. Involve several team members in the interview, speak at length with former colleagues and focus on questions on How? ‘Or’ What great things have been accomplished during What great things have been accomplished in their past, he argues, should give you enough reading between the lines to avoid a bad decision.

Second, it’s hard to win and retain top talent, even if you are able to find them in the first round. So it is important to make sure that your fast growing business is ready for fast growing learners. To do this, Margaret Rogers suggests in a HBR article that we intentionally create varied learning experiences for these players, more field opportunities for them, and provide more regular feedback to meet their greater appetite for rapid growth.

The most talented interviewees won’t have a “Top Draft Pick” sticker on their shirts when they walk through your door or into your Zoom meeting. Yet it is also true that “you are only as good as your team”. Stick to these questions to give your business a head start when looking for champions.


Natasha Ganem, PhD, is the founder and director of Lions leaders, a company that prepares creative and growing businesses for the future through a mix of courses, coaching and consulting services. She is a thinker, a learner, an appreciator of all that is good.


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